This is about the 100th article by Ben Wear about the cost of the Capital Metro Commuter Rail Line. Sure it's something citizens want to hear about, but in a more intelligent world, he would be asking questions about how the system is only going to have a few runs a day and the technical details of what would fix that or how it got to this point that anything even needed to be fixed. You know, information that would keep something disappointing like that from happening again. Or possibly how light rail downtown could possibly realign development in Austin or even how there are a billion different ways to fund transit lines with innovative ideas. But no, Austin is stuck with yet another article about the cost of the line.
As you all know, I'm not a reporter. But if I were to write a column on transportation, I would probably educate myself about what the best practices are around the country and fill my feed reader with every single piece of transportation information I can to inform my writing. I try to do that anyway but I don't get paid to write and I don't have a whole city to inform. But newspapers wonder why they are losing readers and market share to other sources and I would say its because the information they give is just too basic, especially on issues such as transportation.
While blog commentary will never take the place of reporting, they are creating an elevated discussion about niche issues such as transit and development. As I was discussing with a colleague the other day, if we were relating blogs to college courses, newspapers are often the intro courses and blogs the upper level electives. Feel free to look at the course schedule.
Update 1.30.09: David has more on newspaper issues including simple things they can do like linking out.